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'Never too old to debut': Wallaby star's brother becomes the hero for the Fijian Drua

By AAP
Fijian Drua celebrate after a try during the round three Super Rugby Pacific match between Fiji Drua and Crusaders at Churchill Park, on March 11, 2023, in Lautoka, Fiji. (Photo by Pita Simpson/Getty Images)

Rob Valetini boasts a stack of Wallabies caps and is one of rugby’s hottest prospects, but even he had to settle for the role of little brother on Saturday night.

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Before his Brumbies claimed a third straight win, brother Kemu had produced a magical sporting moment, slotting a penalty goal after the siren to earn Fijian Drua a huge upset win against the Crusaders in his Super Rugby Pacific debut.

In memorable scenes, the packed crowd in Lautoka was in raptures celebrating their first win in Fiji since entering the competition last year.

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For 28-year-old Kemu, it was the culmination of a lengthy journey to earn his debut, but also his chance to start a new chapter in his domestic competition.

Brother Rob, 24, admitted it was a special family moment, seeing Kemu shine in their heritage nation, in front of family and on a ground their father had played on in the past.

“He’ll definitely be the favourite child now winning in Fiji … I’m just really happy for the family,” Rob said.

“I was stoked just to see him get on. He was only on for about five minutes and got all the glory at the end there.

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“I was definitely really happy for him. I called the parents after the game too and they were real happy.

“He’s been on a long journey as well, through a lot of injuries and he’s been around the same rugby scenes around the world.”

Kemu spent a season at the Melbourne Rebels development side before heading for a stint in Spain, but earned his Drua contract via impressive form last season at Shute Shield side Manly.

Rob said the moment was huge for Fijian rugby and admitted he dreaded having to travel there and tackle the Drua at some point in the future.

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“You’re never too old to debut,” he said. “He (Kemu) got picked up just to go and train with the Drua, only on a training contract that was supposed to end in January.

“Kids growing up in Fiji now have a pathway to go through instead of going overseas to France or Japan, and the Drua is only going to get stronger with all the kids wanting to play there.

“It’s probably the last place you want to play, Fiji, in the heat, in front of that crowd.

“It’s always going to be a tough ask to go and play there. Lucky we don’t have them there (this season).”

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